For any mums-to-be in your life, Chloë Cipra shares maternity sewing projects you can work on this holiday season.

If you’re a sewist with a sustainable mindset and have just embarked on the wonderful journey to motherhood, you may find yourself overwhelmed with options and ideas. Should you sew anything for pregnancy? What patterns are breastfeeding friendly?

At the time of writing this article, I am a 35 weeks pregnant first time mum-to-be. I’d love to inspire you to prepare for this new stage of life whilst cultivating a mindful approach to sewing for yourself.

Sewing for pregnancy

I’ll be honest, I did not search high and low for pregnancy patterns. I enjoy loose fitting garments in my regular, non-pregnant wardrobe and found that I was able to wear a lot of my makes quite far into the pregnancy. Some of my favourite items to accommodate the bump during this time were: my two picnic dresses, a long flowy skirt, a tee shirt dress, my linen culotte pants, some lounge pants, the #wattlebirdjumpsuit and the #m7969.

A self-drafted picnic dress in recycled cotton from Wild Craft

The ever popular #m7969 in Paprika linen from The Fabric Store

During my third trimester, as my trusted self drafted linen culotte pants were starting to feel too tight, I upcycled a size 16 pair of similar pants I found at the op shop. They were a bit too big at the waist but perfect for the bump, so I had an idea of making the waist adjustable to make them wearable right until the end. After much deliberation and some precious help from the Instagram community, I sourced some scrap fabric to make a case that I stitched inside the waistband. I used an old pair of straps from a swimsuit to run inside the case and use as drawstrings. Et voila, a very zero waste sewing project! For more details and videos on how I did this, watch my ‘Maternity’ Instagram highlight.

Upcycled second hand pants with a case and drawstring for an adjustable waist

I had all the best intentions to make maternity leggings, but this project didn’t end up coming to fruition as I prioritised others. If you’re interested in such a project, there are a lot of (sometimes free) maternity waistband add-ons to leggings patterns which could work great, such as this one. This tutorial by Megan Nielsen, an Australian pattern designer, also shows how to add a yoga waistband to leggings, which is essentially the same as making a maternity band. Trust me, maternity leggings will become a wardrobe staple during your pregnancy, especially if you are pregnant during winter.

So my advice for pregnancy wear is:

  • Hack existing patterns by making them a size bigger or grading up if you’re into loose fitting items and are thinking of wearing your makes after pregnancy so they last for longer.
  • If you’re more into tight fitting clothing, choose a few select sewing projects for your pregnancy that you will cherish and hopefully wear again.
  • Also look into upcycling existing garments as a more sustainable approach to pregnancy wear, especially if you don’t think you’ll be wearing these items after your pregnancy.

Sewing for breastfeeding

You may be planning to breastfeed your baby and thinking about making your wardrobe breastfeeding friendly. I haven’t sewn anything specifically for this purpose yet but have been second hand shopping with this in mind for the past few months.

Things to look for in regular, non-maternity sewing patterns are buttoned up tops and dresses, such as the Zero Waste Gather Dress by Birgitta Helmersson, or wrap style like the #m7969 or the Paris top by Fibre Mood, or even tied up like the Camille Top by Makyla.


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A post shared by Haruka Mishima (@hachi8handmade)

Specialised items would usually feature a horizontal zipper under the chest area, or side openings with snap buttons. I would love to try my hand at hacking ready to wear items or me made ones with these two opening styles. In the meantime, I have been really inspired by the style and ethos behind the maternity French label Tajine Banane and found some of their tops second hand online on Vinted (the French version of Depop).

Another easy to sew item that comes to mind when it comes to breastfeeding are reusable nursing/breastfeeding pads. Also a great project for fabric scraps!

I’d love to keep the conversation going about pregnancy and breastfeeding friendly sewing on Instagram, so feel free to come and chat on @theslowlifesews and @theslowparent!